Kumu Pono Associates

Historical & Archival Documentary Research · Oral History Studies · Partnerships in
Cultural Resources Management · Developing Preservation Plans and Interpretive Programs


Ahupua‘a of - Ka‘ohe (Hāmākua District) and
Humu‘ula (Hilo District), Island of Hawai‘i
(various TMK)
Kepā Maly • Cultural Resources Specialist
Prepared for
Group 70 International
925 Bethel Street, Fifth Floor
Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96813-4307
February 1, 1999
©1999 Kumu Pono Associates
Kumu Pono Associates
Kepā Maly, Consultant
Historical & Archival Documentary Research · Oral History Studies · Partnerships in
Cultural Resources Management · Developing Preservation Plans and Interpretive Programs
554 Keonaona St. · Hilo, Hawai‘i 96720 · (ph./fax) 808.981.0196 · (e-mail) kepa@interpac.net

Executive Summary

At the request of Group 70 International, cultural resources specialist, Kepā Maly (Kumu Pono Associates), conducted oral historical interviews and developed an overview of archival and historical literature in conjunction with the update of the Complex Development Plan of the Mauna Kea Science Reserve and Hale Pōhaku for the University of Hawai‘i (UH). The primary UH study area is situated in the ahupua‘a (land divisions) of Ka‘ohe (Hāmākua District) and Humu‘ula (Hilo District), on the island of Hawai‘i; and encompasses the summit region of Mauna Kea. This study was conducted to help document some of the traditions and practices associated with Mauna Kea, and to identify some of the significant features of the landscape, including natural and man-made cultural resources on Mauna Kea so that they can be protected, preserved, and appropriately managed in the future.

The work conducted as a part of this study was developed and performed in consultation with the Department of Land and Natural Resources-State Historic Preservation Division, native Hawaiian organizations and community members, and the consulting firm of Paul H. Rosendahl, Ph.D., Inc. (PHRI), a sub-consultant to Group 70 International for the master plan update project.

Mauna Kea is one of the most significant land features of the Hawaiian Archipelago. Because of its prominence on the landscape of Hawai‘i Island, Mauna Kea has been and continues to be viewed from afar by many people who attribute spiritual and cultural values to the mountain. Thus, Mauna Kea’s place in the culture and history of the Hawaiian people is significant, and extends beyond physical sites or particular features which have been previously identified in archaeological site studies. The present study area contains approximately 11,000 acres and includes a portion of the southern flank of the mountain, and the entire summit region (the zone at approximately the 11,500 foot elevation and higher) of Mauna Kea.

Oral History Interviews and Consultation

In the period between September 25th to December 21st, 1998, Maly (the author) conducted a total of fifteen tape recorded and supplemental oral history interviews with twenty-two participants. The interviews were transcribed and returned to each of the interviewees and follow up discussions were conducted to review each of the typed draft-transcripts. The latter process resulted in the recording of additional narratives with several interviewees. Following completion of the interview process, all of the participants in the tape recorded oral history interviews gave their written permission for inclusion of portions of their transcripts in this study (Appendix A). Additionally three historic interviews (recorded between 1956 to 1967) were translated from Hawaiian to English by the author and transcribed. With those interviews, representing three primary interviewees, the total number of interviewees represented in this study is twenty-five.

Also, during the process of preparing for, and conducting the formal recorded interviews, the author spoke with more than 100 individuals who were known to him, or were identified as: (1) having knowledge about Mauna Kea; (2) knowing someone who could be a potential interviewee; or (3) who represented Native Hawaiian organizations (i.e. Hui Mālama i nā Kūpuna o Hawai‘i Nei, the Island of Hawai‘i Council of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs) with interest in Mauna Kea. Several of those contacts resulted in the recording of informal documentation regarding Mauna Kea, or generated written responses as formal communications. Notes written up during some of those conversations, which add information to the historical record of Mauna Kea, are cited as personal communications in Appendix B. The notes paraphrase key points from individual conversations, but were not reviewed by the individuals identified. Thus, they represent informal communications which could be followed up on at a later date as a part of further work to be undertaken on Mauna Kea. The formal letter communications are also reproduced from the original transmittals in their entirety in Appendix B.

It is also noted here that several potential participants in the interview or consultation process were unavailable or did not wish to participate in the formal oral history interview study. All but one of those individuals were identified when they spoke at one or more of three formal public hearings held by the Mauna Kea Advisory Committee (MKAC) on August 31st, September 1st and 3rd, 1998. By agreement with hearing participants, the hearings were recorded on tape. Those tapes were transcribed by Group 70 International (with final transcript preparation by this author), but because of technical difficulties, not all of the testimonies were recorded. Portions of the testimonies made by individuals who did not participate in the oral history program, but which include cultural-historical narratives are cited verbatim in Appendix C as they provide readers with further information on issues and concerns raised about Mauna Kea.

Documentary Research

In the period between August 1996 and May 1998, the author conducted and reported on the findings of detailed archival research for the Mauna Kea study area (Maly, published May 1998). As a result, the present scope of work for this study focused on oral history interviews, limited archival research, and development of an overview of several recent studies which provide important historical documentation on Mauna Kea (reported in Appendix D of this study). Archival documentation was researched in the collections of the Hawai‘i State Archives, Land Management and Survey Divisions, and Bureau of Conveyances; collections of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum and Hawaiian Historical Society; and the University of Hawaii-Hilo Campus, Mo‘okini Library. Also, while the scope of work for this study did not include conducting a detailed review of previous archaeological work performed on Mauna Kea, the author did review several key studies. Archaeologists with the Department of Land and Natural Resources-State Historic Preservation Division and the consulting firm of Paul H. Rosendahl, Ph.D., Inc. (PHRI) are preparing reports on past and present archaeological studies on Mauna Kea.

Overview of Research and Primary Recommendations
made by Interviewees and Consultation Participants

The archival literature and oral historical accounts cited in this study provide resource managers, UH planners, DLNR-SHPD, consultants, and members of the community with several forms of information. They include: (1) historical accounts of practices on, and travel to Mauna Kea, as experienced by elder native Hawaiians and others with personal knowledge-learned from elders or through actual travel upon the mountain; an overview of the pre-history and early historic period of Mauna Kea; (2) through the recollections and stories of the interviewees-some of whom trace their connection to Mauna Kea back to the 19th century-readers gain an overview of their sentiments regarding the impacts attributed tothe present uses of Mauna Kea and proposed further development of observatory facilities on Mauna Kea; and (3) an overview of the pre-history and early historic period of Mauna Kea.

In regards to item # 2 referenced above, sixteen of the interviewees expressed the opinion that the proposed development of additional observatory complexes on Mauna Kea was inappropriate. Two of the interviewees expressed hesitancy at further development-based on a deep respect for Mauna Kea. One interviewee felt that the benefits of the work done by the observatories far out weighed other concerns, and that the research conducted on Mauna Kea provided important knowledge to all mankind.

All individuals spoken with as a part of the consultation and information collection process felt that further development of observatories on Mauna Kea was inappropriate. All participants in the study shared a common love for the mountain and encouraged that any activity on Mauna Kea be done in a way that is respectful of the past and the natural resources, and that all activities need to be monitored to ensure protection of the resources.

Study Organization

As noted above, this study presents readers with the findings of two phases of work - (1) oral historical interviews and consultation records (in this volume); and (2) documentation recorded in archival and historical literature (Appendix D). Because this project represents the first detailed oral history program for Mauna Kea - focusing on the area extending from the piko (summit) to the kula (flat lands) surrounding Mauna Kea - the oral history and consultation records are presented in the main body of the document. In the area of archival-historical literature, there has been more extensive work conducted and reported, thus, the overview of that documentation is presented following the interview and consultation records.

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